SID'S CHOICE ... Some time in the next month, four members of the City Council will get together to compose an argument urging Palo Alto voters to repeal the binding-arbitration provision from the City Charter. The one question looming over the process is: Which four? The question is more than academic given that only five members of the nine-member council voted to place the item on the ballot (one of the five, Vice Mayor Yiaway Yeh, said he doesn't support the repeal but wants to give voters a say on the matter). The decision on appointing the four-member committee falls to Mayor Sid Espinosa, who opposed the repeal measure but who now gets to pick the authors of the pro-repeal argument. The most obvious choices to pen the pro-repeal argument are Councilwoman Karen Holman and councilmen Greg Scharff and Pat Burt, all of whom supported the repeal measure last year (when it failed by a 4-5 vote) and who voted in its favor last month. Burt said he, Holman and Scharff have already discussed a possible argument in favor of the repeal. The fourth member could be Greg Schmid, who also favors repealing the provision, or Larry Klein, who opposes both binding arbitration and the repeal of binding arbitration (Klein supported an alternate measure that would have modified the provision). Espinosa acknowledged on Monday that he is in a "unique situation" of having voted against the repeal measure but having the power to make the appointments. He vowed, however, not to base his appointments on his political stance on the issue. "This is not a political game for me," Espinosa said. "The majority voted for this. ... This isn't a story of gamesmanship."
THE 'NORMAL UGLY' ... Palo Alto's Architectural Review Board is used to grappling with such issues as construction materials, color palettes and landscape elements in proposed developments. But on Thursday, the panel of critical architects has an unusual assignment: a review of an AT&T proposal to plant antennas on existing utility poles at nine Palo Alto locations. The proposed antennas would come in pairs and would be placed on top of each pole in a U-shaped configuration. Members didn't vote on the proposal but agreed the design of the proposed antenna system has plenty of room for improvement, with board Vice Chair Heather Young calling it "not particularly endearing." But board member Alex Lew argued that the equipment — while not exactly beautiful — isn't any uglier than other utility equipment in the city (in the words of board member Judith Wasserman, they fall into "the normal ugly range"). Board Chair Clare Malone Prichard agreed with Lew. "They're not great looking, but if you look at the pole without these things on it they're also not great looking," she said.